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Windows Server 2003: 3 Migration Considerations

7 Apr 2015 by Jessica Hall

By now, you’re fully aware of the looming Windows Server® 2003 end-of-support deadline, but are you underestimating its intricacy and operational implications? Take these three considerations into account before it’s too late to reverse their effects.

Shortcuts are more time-consuming and costly than they seem.

With limited budgets and operating in a state of triage, it’s tempting to migrate the easiest cases first. While you may have a plan in place to tackle the rest at a future date, the complex workloads are likely to have a greater impact on business: positive if upgraded, negative if ignored.

However, with the opportunity for greater returns comes an investment of time. Not only is a healthy timeline needed to safeguard workloads from threats of downtime, but also to ensure end-user adoption by accounting for training and education time.

“In the application world, you also have to look at the application updates and version changes,” says Trent Viavattene, senior manager of the core infrastructure practice at Insight. “Those are going to take the longest, so you need to start addressing those in the beginning.”

If you identify an application that needs to be upgraded as part of the Windows Server 2003 migration, Viavattene recommends that you ask yourself:

  • Are there licensing changes?
  • Are code changes required?
  • Is it a custom, in-house application?

“Those are the things that are going to take the longest, so organizations need to start tackling them in the beginning or, at the very least, as soon as possible,” advises Viavattene. Concurrently, he suggests, organizations can also address the quick wins.

If you wait until the last minute to tackle the more complex initiatives, you’ll run out of time before the Windows Server 2003 end-of-support deadline.

Hardware matters — a lot.

You may be considering repurposing old hardware. “If an organization chooses to wipe the operating system and repurpose an existing machine by installing a new OS, they’ll run into challenges, as it doesn’t allow for the migration of the applications,” says Viavattene.

“This will increase the downtime for the end users, and it also complicates the migration task because you’ll need to reinstall the application with the original media — and you’ll need to copy the data to a shared data drive for a period of time and then recopy it back onto the ‘new’ server,” he adds.

Perhaps you’re leaning toward using old or discounted hardware. Keep in mind that current hardware often provides workload optimization, allowing you to build an agile, swift, effective and economical infrastructure with the right hardware in place. If you’re transitioning to Windows Server 2012 R2, your infrastructure (servers, networks and storage) needs to be designed to take advantage of the new offerings, including data duplication, Storage Spaces and Hyper-V®.

There’s a business case for avoiding risks.

The financial side of the house may underestimate the risks involved with delaying migration until after the July 14 deadline. Ignore the Windows Server 2003 end-of-support cutoff as a healthcare organization, and you could face up to $1.5 million in Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violation penalties.

Furthermore, with customers relying on your organization to keep their personal information secure, failing to migrate your Windows Server 2003 servers creates the risk of a large-scale loss of consumer confidence due to data breaches. Don’t forget that the Department of warning businesses of the negative consequences.

With the possibility of compliance violations and susceptibility to hackers, your organization may be considering paying Microsoft for support after the deadline. However, everyone involved should understand that doing so will not only result in a recurring cost, but it’s also only a temporary solution. “For example, a company with 200 servers could face an added expense of $2 million over the course of 24 months,” illustrates Eric Su, senior product manager of services for Insight.

Find out more about Insight’s approach to Windows Server 2003 end of support at www.insight.com/ServerIgnite.

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